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Biographical Sketches of the Participants

Megan Berthold, PhD, LCSW, joined the Program for Torture Victims (PTV) in 1998. Founded in 1980, PTV is the oldest program in the United States that provides medical, psychological, and case management services to survivors of state-sponsored torture from around the world.  Dr. Berthold is one of PTV’s psychotherapists and is the Director of Research and Evaluation.  Before joining PTV, she worked extensively with Southeast Asian refugees in the United States and in refugee camps in Thailand and the Philippines.  She specializes in the cross-cultural assessment and treatment of survivors of torture and related traumas. At PTV Dr. Berthold conducts psychosocial assessments and provides therapy to torture survivors, serves as an expert witness in immigration court, and conducts trainings on the psychological effects of torture to a wide range of health, mental health, legal, and social service providers.  Among Dr. Berthold’s research endeavors, she is a co-Investigator on a federally funded NIMH study researching the prevalence and mental health consequences of torture and other traumas among Khmer refugee adults in Long Beach, California.

Claudia Catani, Ph.D. is a psychologist with expertise in mental health disorders related to traumatic stress as a consequence of organized and domestic violence and is currently post-doc researcher at the Department of Clinical Psychology at the University of Konstanz. She is board member of the international NGO vivo – victim’s voice (, an organization working to overcome and prevent traumatic stress and its consequences within the individual as well as the community, safeguarding the rights and dignity of people affected by violence and conflict. Dr. Catani’s research activities include extensive field work in different post-war countries (Afghanistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka) addressing the epidemiology of mental health problem in the aftermath of war and the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder in adults and children with Narrative Exposure Therapy. Dr. Catani also has a major research interest in psychophysiological correlates of emotional elaboration and neurophysiological indicators of stress reactions and post-traumatic stress disorder. Currently, she is employing Magnetoencephalography (MEG) to investigate alterations of neural network indicators through narrative treatment in torture victims.

Rona M. Fields, Ph.D. is a psychologist with expertise in violence and terrorism and is currently a visiting scholar at Howard University, Washington DC and is the Founder and Director of Associates in Community Psychology, a clinical and consulting practice in Washington DC. She graduated with honors in psychology from Lake Forest College in Lake Forest, Illinois, and did graduate work at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana and Loyola University of Chicago where she achieved a master’s in psychology. She holds a doctorate from the University of Southern California. Fields did extensive research on torture in Northern Ireland and Portugal and Portuguese Africa during the 1974-76 period of the Revolutionary Government, and was appointed to the Amnesty International Medical Commission in the Campaign to Abolish Torture in 1973, as well as held a visiting fellowship at the Peace Research Institute in Oslo and the International Peace Research Association. She was a co-founder of the Socialwissenschaftliche Insstitut fur Katastrophen und Umfallforschung in Kiel. Fields authored Northern Ireland: Society Under Siege, The Future of Women, Society on the Run, and The Armed Forces Movement and the Portuguese Revolution. Her most recent book, Martyrdom: The Psychology, Theology and Politics of Self Sacrifice was published by Greenwood/Praeger in 2004.

Stuart Grassian, M.D. is a psychiatrist with extensive experience in evaluating the psychiatric effects of stringent conditions of confinement, including involvement in a number of major class action lawsuits around the country. His work has been cited in a number of significant legal decisions, including cases in both federal and state courts. Dr. Grassian has experience with a wide variety of concerns associated with the effects of such confinement, including the problem of 'volunteerism' in death penalty cases, impairment of the 6th Amendment rights of pretrial detainees, and issues concerning prisoners accused or convicted of politically motivated crimes, including '60's radicals and accused terrorist detainees.

Uwe Jacobs, Ph.D., has been working with Survivors International for the past 12 years and has developed and implemented a variety of programs for survivors. He is both a clinical neuropsychologist and a psychotherapist. He is an expert on the psychological and neuropsychological assessment of asylum seekers and has written and published guidelines on this topic (see SI publications at Dr. Jacobs drafted the chapters on the psychological and neuropsychological sequelae of torture for the currently existing international guidelines for the examination of torture published by the UN High Commissioner (Istanbul Protocol) and for the handbook on assessment of asylum seekers by Physicians for Human Rights. Prior to becoming Director of SI, Dr. Jacobs developed other programs for disadvantaged populations. He founded and directed the Homeless Assessment Program through the Wright Institute, Berkeley. He served as the psychological consultant in developing the Life After Exoneration Project (LAEP), a national program for wrongfully convicted ex-prisoners. Dr. Jacobs has also published in the area of psychotherapy process research. Dr. Jacobs has served as an Adjunct Faculty at the Wright Institute, Berkeley since 1997 and maintains an independent practice.

Alfred McCoy, Alfred W. McCoy is the J.R.W. Smail Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After earning his Ph.D. in Southeast Asian history at Yale in 1977, his writing on this region has focused on two topics--the political history of the modern Philippines and the politics of opium in the Golden Triangle. His first book, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia (New York, 1972), originally sparked controversy when the CIA tried to block its publication, but is now regarded as the standard work on the subject of illicit narcotics. It has been in print for over 30 years, and been translated into nine languages, most recently Thai and German. His history of the Philippine officer corps, Closer Than Brothers (New Haven, 1999) examines the impact of the CIA’s torture training upon the Philippine armed forces. Most recently, A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, From the Cold War to the War on Terror (New York, 2006), which is also available in German, continues his exploration of the covert netherworld and its influence upon U.S. foreign policy. His forthcoming book on Philippine police during the 20th Century will draw together the main two strands in his research, the covert netherworld and modern Philippine history, to explore the transformative power of police, information, and scandal in the shaping of both the Philippine Republic the US national security state.

Almerindo Ojeda, PhD, is the founding director of the UCDavis Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas (CSHRA). The CSHRA is an academic initiative founded in the Spring of 2005 through a grant from the UCDavis Office of Research. Its mission is to support efforts to gather information about human rights in our hemisphere, interpret it from cross-disciplinary perspectives, develop appropriate legal instruments, create relevant curricula, and enhance human rights in the Americas through enlightened action. In addition to the project on the Neurobiology of Psychological Torture, CSHRA is currently engaged in The Guantanamo Testimonials Project, a comprehensive attempt to gather testimony about prisoner abuse at the detention facilities there. Almerindo Ojeda is Professor of Linguistics at the University of California at Davis, where he specializes in formal syntax and semantics. He is the author of Linguistic Individuals.

Michael Spezio, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral scholar in social and affective neuroscience in the Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences and at the Brain Imaging Center at the California Institute of Technology. He obtained a doctorate in biochemistry from Cornell University, a doctorate in cognitive/systems neuroscience from the University of Oregon, and a master of divinity degree with a concentration in ethics from the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. His work focuses on brain networks involved in the experience of emotions and in social judgment and decision making. Dr. Spezio has shown that how people use facial information can differ even when how they look at faces does not differ, and that autism involves a specific deficit in top-down attention to faces, with preservation of bottom-up attention. He has investigated social cognition in people who have autism and in people who were born without the major connection between the two halves of the brain. He is currently investigating the effects of torture on brain networks for social judgment and emotional regulation, in collaboration with the Program for Torture Victims located in Los Angeles, CA. Dr. Spezio is also an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and has published articles on the implications of neuroscience for understanding ethical decision making.